Robert S. King

Preexisting Condition


I follow ruptured lines of sewers
bloated with dead water and bones,
streets where vendors are beggars,
where only vultures are too fat to fly.

Condemned buildings flush
their waste out of windows,
no manna of medicine or food.
Even the rain is slick with oil.

At least my hungry dog loves me.

Between mushroom clouds,
the sun’s radiation treatment is free.
The invisible ones, one by one,
fall as meat too spoiled to feed the poor.
The milk of human kindness
warms from toxic waste.

At least my hungry dog cleans my face.

Deafening is the noise of guts growling
and the rattle of my legs wobbling
on the edge. My sick stomach
has nothing to throw up.

At least my hungry dog never bites
the hand that cannot feed him.





The promised fresh air
is an oil slick peppered with coal dust.
The clouds are poison mushrooms.
The poor and sick are fully covered
by dirt thrown in their faces.
Generosity feeds the masses
with rotting fish.

Our Father who art in His tower
is too high to smell the stench below.



King, Robert S.

Robert S. King lives in Athens, GA, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press and edits Good Works Review. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press 2014). His personal website is